Over the past two weeks, we’ve heard a lot about the executives leaving Salesforce, but not much about the woman who takes over from Stewart Butterfield as CEO of Slack when he leaves to spend time gardening. It’s time we changed that.
Her name is Lidiane Jones, a woman with a strong background in enterprise software. (I requested an interview with Jones for this article, but the company was not making it available to speak to the press.) It wasn’t made available on analyst days.
That will likely change when she takes office at the end of next month.
But it didn’t come out of nowhere. Jones, who lives in the Boston area, has been with Salesforce for three years and quickly rose through the ranks: she started as a product manager for Commerce Cloud, then rocketed to general manager of Commerce Cloud before – before her promo this week. – holding the title of General Manager of Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Experience Cloud, which essentially encompasses all of the company’s B2C activities.
Prior to that, she spent 13 years at Microsoft working on a variety of products, from Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Project to enterprise application virtualization, Office collaboration and finally Azure Machine Learning.
She also spent nearly four years at Sonos as vice president of product management. Her unique blend of enterprise and consumer experience should prepare her well for her new job leading Slack, where she will have to distinguish between user experience and business requirements.
In Butterfield’s Slack farewell announcement, sources made available to TechCrunch earlier this week (was it only this week?), he praised his replacement effusively. While he might try to sell her to a skeptical group accustomed to his decade of stable leadership, it sounds like he really likes her too:
So, about this Lidiane. You will love it. She is pragmatic and practical, insightful, passionate, creative, kind and curious. She’s right next to that little diamond-shaped heart in the four-circle Venn diagram of Smart, Humble, Hardworking, and Collaborative. Prior to Salesforce, she spent four years leading product at Sonos, where she fell in love with Slack. She has a deep respect for our approach to the product, our obsession with the customer and our unique culture. She is one of us.
It’s a pretty warm welcome, and Anand Thaker, a marketing technology consultant and founder of several startups who follows Salesforce closely, also thinks it’s a perfect fit for Slack.
“She has a strong technical and management background, and the projects and groups she worked on within Salesforce – experience, marketing, commerce – were all places where Slack would fit in and drive the best value. Each of these has strong consumer commerce elements where the greatest growth (or least churn) is likely to come from and is consistent (reading the tea leaves) with where Benioff intended Salesforce to go,” Thaker told TechCrunch.
Butterfield added that Jones’ roles within Salesforce will make her a strong voice for Slack within the larger organization, which could be helpful when transferring leadership.
Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and principal analyst at firm Deep Analysis, said that in many ways she is better prepared for the job than some longtime CEOs.
“I don’t know Lidiane personally, but she seems like the logical option because she seemed to be doing a good job managing the Marketing, Experience, Commerce Clouds, and managing those isn’t much different than managing several large companies, so ironically she has more real CEO experience as a first-time CEO than many experienced CEOs. Plus, she was with Microsoft a long time — and could bring some of their rigor to the table.” , did he declare.
Jones certainly has big shoes to fill, taking over from a founder-CEO in the midst of a big transition for the company, but with a few decades of tech experience behind her, she seems more than prepared for the challenge.